Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

August 26, 2014
Live Fit set to launch new challenge for businesses

After the success of its inaugural Life Fit to Win challenge, the Tooele County Live Fit coalition is ready to unveil a new competition geared toward fitness in the workplace.

This fall, local businesses will have 12 weeks to develop and implement a work site wellness program and demonstrate improved employee health. The winner will receive a comprehensive, year-long work site wellness program sponsored by Live Fit.

“This program can work for a company that doesn’t have any kind of employee wellness going on, or if they have a little bit of a wellness program going on,” said Malaena Toohey, Live Fit Tooele County chair. “Or, if they have a comprehensive program, we would like to know about their success to help other businesses.”

Businesses and work sites that enter the 12-week challenge will receive a worksheet with suggestions for building a  wellness program and with points assigned to each of the suggested actions.

Businesses can also earn points by having employees sign up for health initiatives, such as this fall’s Fit to Win challenge, and for employee weight loss. The business with the highest score at the end of 12 weeks will be declared the winner.

Suggested actions businesses can take to earn points in the competition include establishing a work site wellness council that will meet at least once a month, encouraging employees to work as a team to set wellness goals, supporting tobacco cessation, or making fruits and veggies available in the break room.

The program was designed to help any kind of company build an employee wellness plan from the ground up, and was loosely inspired by the success of Lake Point-based Beehive Broadband.

Beehive first launched its employee wellness program four years ago, when the company decided to go to a partially self-funded health plan to try to preserve the low-cost benefits it had previously offered its employees, said Lorri Witkowski, human resources manager for Beehive.

At the time, Witkowski said, there were only a few companies in the nation that had employee wellness programs, and most were much larger than Beehive.

“The way we looked at it — they were much larger companies, so if they could do that, surely we could,” she said.

Beehive started small and decided to push to become a tobacco-free company. To encourage employees to kick the habit, Beehive offered to reimburse employees and their spouses up to $1,000 for a tobacco cessation program. To her surprise, Witkowski said she heard none of the anticipated griping. Instead, every Beehive employee who had smoked signed up for the program — and quit successfully.

The success of the tobacco cessation program, as well as increasing concern about rising obesity rates in Tooele County, encouraged Beehive to expand its wellness program to promote healthy eating and exercise, as well.

Today the company reimburses employees for health club memberships and entry fees for active events such as marathons, stocks health food in the break room and encourages employees to make healthy lunches together, hosts health screening events for employees, and even holds group workouts on Fridays. Just this last week, Beehive installed a basketball court in its parking lot for employee use.

“We feel like all those things help reduce our insurance premiums,” Witkowski said, “but it’s really become so much more about the company culture and how it has brought people together.”

The goal of the Live Fit challenge, Malaena said, is not necessarily to encourage every Tooele business to achieve what Beehive has created, but rather to help work sites take small steps to change their employees’ lifestyle.

“We would be happy if just one or two businesses made significant changes,” Toohey said.

The challenge will officially run from Sept. 15 to Dec. 8, but work sites interested in participating should contact Toohey by the first week of September. For questions or to register a business, call 801-910-1399 or email mtoohey@tooelehealth.org. 

Emma Penrod

Staff Writer at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Emma Penrod is a staff writer for the Tooele Transcript-Bulletin and covers Tooele City government, religion, health, the environment, ethnic issues and public infrastructure. A Tooele native, Penrod graduated from Tooele High School in 2010. She holds an associates degree from Utah State University, and a bachelor’s degree in communications from Brigham Young University. She worked for the newspaper as a high school intern starting in 2008. In 2010 she began working full-time in the newsroom until she left for college later that year. While at BYU, Penrod worked as a writer and editor for a small health magazine in Utah County. She interned with The Riverdale Press, a community newspaper in the Bronx, NY and with the Deseret News. She is also the author of two non-fiction books.

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